Abu Dhabi has become a happy hunting ground for Gary Hunt. The Briton won the men’s Fina High Diving World Cup three times in a row on Saturday at the Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club.
Hunt braved the windy conditions at the breakwater to complete the hat-trick in style with an excellent final round score to regain the lead and retain his title with an overall score of 431.55 points.
Constantin Popovici (424.65) of Romania won silver and Ukrainian Oleksiy Prygorov (392.30) took bronze.
The men’s event had to be rescheduled twice because of strong winds but Hunt said he was comfortable and confident.
“The windy conditions weren’t a problem but there was pressure when I went for the final dive, because I had to get a good score to regain the lead,” he said.
“The two divers who joined me on the podium both got high scores and I had to get a really good score to win, which I managed to do. Very happy to win the title again in Abu Dhabi.”
Hunt hasn’t planned his schedule for next year but is hoping to be back in Abu Dhabi to defend his title.
“Abu Dhabi seems to be a lucky place for me,” said the 34-year old Briton of his record of three wins in three visits.
“It’s the final competition for the year and I’ll take a break before planning for next year. I’m not getting any younger, so I want to make most of my time to compete when I still can.”
Rhiannan Iffland of Australia won the women’s title from Lysanne Richard of Canada and American Ellie Smart.
Iffland, runner up last year and finishing in the top 10 in 2016, had won her first World Cup.
“I’m so happy winning this title for the first time in three visits to Abu Dhabi and want to return to defend my title next year,” she said.
Richard, the 2016 winner and ninth last year, said she was happy with the result and couldn’t wait until she returns home to celebrate with her family.
“I love Abu Dhabi and for sure I’ll be back next year,” she said. “We were so well received here and there is a lot of progression in the sport.
“It’s time for a break and spend time with my family. I have three kids and I just can’t wait until I get back and hug my husband and the kids, and have some family fun.”
Ahmed Al Qubaisi, Director of Marketing and Communication at Abu Dhabi Sports Council, said both the FINA events, the 10km Marathon Swim and the High Diving World Cups, were successfully concluded.
“The athletes were happy and the governing body for the sport were happy,” he said.
“I have no doubt everybody connected to the sport around the globe as well as the travelling fans following the competitions will have thoroughly enjoyed the action.”